Gifts

by austere seeker

That year the monsoon was particularly rough, and as the heavens drummed furiously in a staccato of endless silver, they watched, prayed and fretted as the papers ran a rush of worried headlines about their distant home state: gushing angry rivers, marooned villages, submerged highways, collapsed bridges, a building here, a wall there, so many lost, and so on. If the lake flooded over and the meandering trickle-of-a-river that dissected the city into regal old and glass-frontage-new shook itself free and raged past its banks, its swirling muddy waters could rush into the house, not that much of what one would call value was left there in any event; that then, was the debate pared and argued into infinite slivers, quite pointless. The month after, when it finally began to dry out, when the roads were usable again and electricity restored in starts, when the main door could finally be pried open, she stepped warily on marble-tiled floors painted with muddy silt and exclaimed at the wild Picasso-like watermarks that slashed the faded walls. After the rubble and extra soggy everything was cleared, it was time to wrench open the old metal boxes that had been stored for five decades in the attic, but seepage had corroded the green paint and eaten away at the metal beneath, the rusted lock gave away at touch, revealing stacks of crumbling airmails written in a fine hand with mold shredded edges, a package of unused wedding invites with a peacock feather-flourish now completely soggy-musty, the letters red smudged, and beneath all this the photo album that had long disintegrated into a mass of mold, fragile daubed faces on ghost white. She long sat by with dry eyes, finally touching her nose with a gritty finger; this stubby nose and her flaring temper would be the only part of her heritage she'd ever know. So be it.

6S

austere seeker, author of Storm Overhead, lives, works, and writes in Mumbai.